Tom Hanks warned us this would happen.
Hanks cautioned his fans on Sunday that a video promoting a dental plan used an artificial-intelligence version of him without his permission, writing in an Instagram post, “BEWARE!! There’s a video out there promoting some dental plan with an AI version of me. I have nothing to do with it.”
The Oscar-winning actor has long been a critic of the use of AI in the entertainment industry, with the 2004 movie The Polar Express marking the first time that his digital likeness was fed into a computer.
“I could be hit by a bus tomorrow, and that’s it, but performances can go on and on and on and on,” Hanks said on The Adam Buxton Podcast on May 12. “Outside the understanding of AI and deepfake, there’ll be nothing to tell you that it’s not me and me alone. And it’s going to have some degree of lifelike quality. That’s certainly an artistic challenge, but it’s also a legal one.”
The Polar Express, a 2004 classic Christmas movie featuring Hanks in numerous roles, relied on motion-capture technology to record his and other actors’ subtle facial expressions and muscle movements. That data was inputted into a computer and transformed into a 3D rendering for a movie that combined live action with motion-capture computer animation to create its “uncanny valley” characters.
The Forrest Gump star spoke on the podcast shortly after the start of the Hollywood writers’ strike and before the actors’ guild struck the following month. Both groups demanded guardrails in their contracts on how AI technology could be used in film and television projects.
A tentative agreement between writers and studios on Wednesday has studios agreeing to not use AI to write or edit scripts, nor use AI-generated content as “source material” that screenwriters could be paid a lower fee to adapt. The actors’ strike is still ongoing, with negotiations expected to resume this week.
A major fear of the actors is that studios would use AI to profit off actors’ likenesses without their permission—something Hanks said is already happening, as the unauthorized dental-plan video shows.
“We saw this coming,” Hanks said on the podcast. “We saw that there was going to be this ability to take zeros and ones inside a computer and turn it into a face and a character. Now that has only grown a billion-fold since then, and we see it everywhere.”
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